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Friday, September 8

Papa, Birbal kaun hai, I only know of Harry Potter!

A Bangalore based NGO is organising a month long 'story-telling festival'. That's great. Because children like brands need stories. It nourishes them and grows them.
Howvever, a cursory look at the stories, the festival advertising and promotion shows a disportionate skew towards western characters. True, we have all grown up with Snow White, Cindrella, sundry elfs & goblins but we also had Akbar-Birbal, Tenali Raman, Mulla Nasruddin and hazaar Pariyon Ki Kahaniyan.

As the father of a 3 year old, when I go to up-market book-stores, I find a preponderance of books with western characters. I feel if we keep burying the Indianianess of our stories, we would deprive a generation of its unique voice and identity.

Globalisation is great but cultural sanitization and homogenisation are not. The inherent Indianness of our stories must not be sacrificed. When executed with finesse and detail, a Hanuman or Krssh can be as popular and endearing. Shekhar Kapur is reviving the lost art through his Virgin-Devi comic books. The kids channels are bringing back stories of Lord Krishna and Ganesha back to our living rooms.

I hope my son loves Birbal as much as Harry Potter when he grows up!

3 comments:

meraj said...

i hope the same for my son/daughter too. and i guess much of this depends on the parents and their outlook/interests in life. of course, the correct stimulus has to be around.

if i can take this to a different level, i will say the same thing about the language Urdu(and its literature/usage in popular culture. the 2 countries which are safekeeping and nurturing this dying language: a) bollywood with its javed akhtars & gulzars and b) Pakistan (btw, this is the only good aspect of this otherwise nuisance making nation). i come from an Urdu speaking/reading family and i can manage to read/write the script with efforts but i dont know wether my children will be able to manage even that much. with efforts from my end, and correct stimuli around, i can just hope for it.

and lo and behold, i just read about worldspace coming up with a dedicated channel to URDU. correct stimuli is happening, my friends!

Anonymous said...

I do agree that we are slowly losing our Culture to the hands of Westernization.
But who has to be blamed for this?

I think the environment we are living in has to be blamed where each of us want to show that we are highly polished and sophisticated and our children too are one of those.And in that bargaing we sacrifice our Culture.
I come from Kerala but the sad part is I have`nt been to Kerala for almost 8 years. But my Dad sees to it that we speak our Mother tongue at home, watch Malayalam movies etc etc. So i guess if each of us try to do these small small things of knowing our Culture it will surely help and maybe what I instill in my kid will surely be passed on to the Next Generation.
So lets be proud of our Culture we have as outsiders want to know but the sad part is we don`t want to know it.
so lets rverse this and be a part of our Culture in the small small things that we do :)

Jigs said...

Interesting post Manish. As usual.

My schooltime peers were predominantly middle to lower middle class. My school never had a strong inclination to story telling. But all of us in school used to love tenali ram and birbal's (T&B) stories which were aired then on telly. I used to urge my parents to get me more and more books on the two characters. They happily obliged and the story books used to roll into my hands straight from the raddi walas' shop. (ya, u can attribute my innate smartness to T&B ;-)

H/wr on one occasion some months ago some of my friends who were from 'better' schools, scoffed at me for not having enuf info on Pinnochio and some Tooth fairy and a list of other 'international' and 'cool' characters. Suddenly my T&B were uncool and looked upon with condescending eyes.

I am not against Mr. Pinnochio or Ms Fairy. I guess all of them have something to teach our kids. I was happy to learn about the story telling festival in bglre. But was saddened by the fact that T&B & other Indian heroes were not featured alongside their international counterparts.